National Auricula and Primrose Society (NAPS) Northern Section
Annual, perennial and interesting flowers with advice on culture, information, tips and recommended varieties
National Auricula and Primrose Society (NAPS) Northern Section
Every dog may have it’s day but great plant species move in and out of fashion. Now 2018 it is the turn of Gladioli to retake center stage. In the 1960’s and 70’s Galdiolus were all the rage and for many gardeners they were top of the popularity stakes. In 2018 they are making a well deserved come back if the media are to be believed. (the media pick up from the trade who must have been undertaking some stock building activities to establish good quantities of corms for sale). I for one have been lead astray by newspaper and magazine articles, vivid coloured packaging of a vibrancy yellow Glad and some carefully targeted adverts. I get these annual urges to focus one plant or group of plants for the year and 2018 is the turn of the gladiolus.
After digging out an old bed 7×7 feet square I planned to grow some sweetpeas and Glads so after the orders were placed I watched some ‘how too’s on youtube’ for a refresher course.
I am not growing for showing so my Gladioli can be grown in a relatively small area hopefully with good results for cut flowers.
So revisiting Gladioli
Pricilla florets with 6 – 7 per stem on erect spikes with pointed sword-like leaves.
Gladioli are the flower of choice for 40th wedding anniversaries. It is too late for me and the missus now…The official flowers of fifty years of marriage are yellow roses and violets so that will have to do.
I like a good strong blue in the garden and not because Chelsea FC play in a blue soccer strip. With the 2018 Chelsea flower show on the RHS calendar I have selected a few photographs to highlight my favourite colour.
The faceless pansy can be a substitute for a viola it plays well as a center forward or in midfield.
In goal we must have the African with the furry edged petals in Violet
The B team Allium is just getting back into form after a long layoff. A mid season injury saw a 4 week metatarsal break disrupt his training.
Anemone and Ranunculus in defense occasionally charging down the wings
Pentas are semi-tropical shrubs grown as annuals that will be ideal if we have a long warm summer. (What is one of those I hear you ask?) They may last through a mild winter and gradually become a woody a 3 foot high shrub .
Another view of the same plant
I coum early to Cyclamen (in the same way I came late to Chrysanthemums). Sorry, good gardening is no laughing matter but I like to plant a pun or two to see how they grow!
Florists Frilled to Meet you Cyclamen
Dwarf Species include;
Miniature conifers and especially pines are worth growing in a cold greenhouse or outdoors. There is a range of shapes and colours to cultivete and a good supply is available from Kenwith Nursery growing miniature and dwarf conifers for the last thirty five years.
Every winter I am on the Oregon trail for garden scent. My best hope is the Mahonia (aka Oregon grape) which grows very well in various shady parts of my garden and flowers profusely in winter. Regrettably I find the much acclaimed scent is hard to detect but smell is not the only thing that gets up my nose! The rigid leaves have several vicious points on the arrayed leaves and catch me out many times a year. This is partly due to a 6 foot shrub near my Japanese garden path. I don’t know what made me think Mahonia was suitable in a Japanese garden but there you go. As a deterrent to uninvited visitors the prickles make it as good as Holly and a close second to Berberis.
The stems or branches are an interesting yellow colour but only get seen when pruning. I prune or trim regularly which aims to keep older plants in shape. Other maintenance is minimal as no critters would make a meal of the leathery, spiked leaves.
Berries that give Mahonia the Oregon Grape name
M. japonica is an erect medium-sized evergreen shrub with large, spined, leathery pinnate leaves and small, fragrant light yellow flowers in spreading or drooping sprays from late autumn to early spring, followed by blue-black berries ‘RHS’
These woodlanders will appreciate a mulch in early spring and a tidy up underneath the main stem.
Selected by the Sunday gardener from over 50 species Mahonia popular cultivars include
The seed catalogue season is in full swing and I paused to consider their value to gardeners.
‘Wallis Seeds are a small family run business and have been selling seeds for over 30 years. Their aim is to provide good quality seed, in good quantities, at a good price. The packets do not have expensive colour pictures!’ The mono colour catalogue seems to have been discontinued but the supply of seed by weight and or varied quantities is still an economic plus. I have kept my old catalogue for reference as basics do not change all that rapidly.
Another of my favorite catalogues comes from Chiltern Seeds ‘full 2018 catalogue, including the Vegbook, with many exciting new varieties, will be available, as ever, around Christmas 2017. You automatically receive a copy if you have placed an order in 2016 or 2017,’
Kings seeds are specialists in vegetable seeds and supplies also acting as wholesale suppliers to allotment societies and commercial growers. (They are related to Suffolk Herbs another specialist seed outfit.)
Please do not forget Thompson & Morgan whose sales from this site provide a small commission to help defray our costs.
Marshalls and Unwins are brands both owned by Westland. Mr Fothergill’s also owns DT Brown, Woolman’s, The Sweet Pea Company and Johnsons but I don’t know who owns them. One way or another we are all paying for the seed trade and their profits.
Dow, Monsanto, Bayer, Basf, Dupont and Syngenta are major chemical conglomerates that supply agriculture. Japanese companies are growing market share.
The “Big 6” have entered into a number of agreements to share patented, genetically engineered seed traits with each other, such as herbicide tolerance and expression of insecticidal toxins.as the businesses within the industry consolidate.
Giving trees what I call the ‘Royal Chop’ is not as drastic as it sounds. It is one way of controlling the low growing branches that restrict light, create unwanted shade and generally get in the way. The technical term may be to ‘Lift the Crown’ which has the result of leaving the lower trunk clear of branches and letting the growth starting at an acceptable height.
My problems started when I couldn’t reach the upper part of the conifer to keep it in trim. The same energy is going into the trees growth without an outlet at the lower end so it gets a bit wider and a lot taller. I pruned out the lower branches leaving about one third of the trunk height bare.
Had I taken out the growing point at the top of the tree the spread of lower branches would have been far wider and been the opposite of what I wanted. Conifers trimmed in spring were not the best subject to learn, on broad-leafed trees trimmed in autumn or winter may have worked better.
‘Crown lifting is the removal of the lowest branches to a specified height and where possible should be achieved by removal of smaller branches so to minimise stress to the tree. The crown of the tree should not be lifted to a point which is more than 1/3 of the overall tree height (i.e. leaving 2/3 of the trees height as crown).’ Crown thinning and crown reduction are variations that are also designed to change the extent of the canopy. Nick Organ Tree maintenance
Shrubs Suitable for Crown Lifting
Acer palmatum and Acer japonica
Bamboos, such as Phyllostachys
Conifers, such as Chamaecyparis, Juniper, Pine and Yew
Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry laurel)
Rhododendron and azalea
This is my Copper Beech that has been lollipoped over a few years, in fact it is regularly licked into shape.